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Saving Money and Energy Can Be a Breeze – With Your Ceiling Fan

Just think about sitting in the grass on that hot summer day, and a breeze comes up and just feels fantastic – like it’s suddenly five degrees cooler.  It feels good because the movement of air past your skin means you can transfer heat from your body faster – it really does cool you down.  You can have that in your home as well, courtesy of your ceiling fan - breeze at the flip of a switch.  As a bonus, easing the need for air conditioned cooling with a ceiling fan can save energy by taking some of the load off your HVAC system.  Most people report they can set their thermostat a few degrees higher if they use their ceiling fan.

Fans cool people, not rooms – turn them off in empty rooms

Remember, though, that the fan cools you off by the breeze passing by you – it doesn’t do anything to cool the room itself.  In fact, because it takes some energy to move the air, it actually heats the room a bit.  You can minimize this effect with a highly efficient ENERGY STAR ceiling fan – fans that have earned the label use 1/3 less energy than a conventional ceiling fan, and are available in a variety of styles and sizes.  In addition, all of them provide enough air movement to cool you off effectively, and have common-sense controls.

But the very best way to save energy is even simpler – just turn the fan off when you leave the room.  If the fan is also a light, one switch can easily control both.  If you think that won’t work for you, consider a fan or switch with a motion sensor that reacts to empty rooms by turning itself off.

Fans can save in winter too

That cooling effect doesn’t help in winter, but ceiling fans can still keep you warmer, by making sure that the warm air is where you are in the room.  Since warm air rises, there is a tendency for the ceiling of a room to be warmer than the floor in winter (unless your furnace is running all the time).  In some homes, it can be a good 3 or 4 degrees warmer – the difference between setting your thermostat at 68 and 72 degrees. A ceiling fan running backward at low speed will gently pull cold air from the center of the floor and push warm air from the ceiling out to the walls and down to the floor.  All ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fans are reversible

Throwing some shade on the sun

The first thing you probably thought of on that warm breezy hillside in summer is shade.  Shading helps for homes too, particularly by keeping strong summer sun out of your windows.  You can ease the load on your A/C, save energy, and be more comfortable by shading your house with trees that leaf out in summer, or by awnings over the windows.  If you can’t arrange for either, even closing the blinds to keep the sun from streaming in will help.

Looking for more ways to save energy as you cool off? Check out ENERGY STAR’s cooling tips.